Kumudini Lakhia, one of Kathak’s living luminaries, is known for her unparalleled technical expertise and artistry. A lifetime dedicated to learning, exploring, teaching and creating has ensured her a place in the history of dance. After a distinguished profession as a solo dancer, Lakhia established the Kadamb Centre for Dance in Ahmedabad in 1964. Here, she focused her energy and vision on the development of the technique, vocabulary and repertoire of Kathak. Starting with a small group of students whom she trained rigorously, she started choreographing in 1973. Her endeavour was to transform the presentation of Kathak using innovative ways for contemporary expression. Kadamb has toured extensively around the world where it has received critical acclaim and connoisseurs’ appreciation. Apart from numerous awards, she has also been conferred with the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. Lakhia has been honoured by numerous cultural institutions for her unique contribution to the world of Indian dance.
Leela Samson received the impetus for her growth as a dancer from Kalakshetra, Chennai, where she was a student, while also studying at Besant Theosophical High School. In 1995, she launched the Spanda Dance Company with a performance in Delhi that was hailed as ‘path-breaking’. Spanda performs in India and around the world ‘doing performances of the abstract and symbolic, of the traditional and contemporary, without forsaking the vocabulary of Bharatanatyam.’ Samson was also the Director of Kalakshetra from 2005 to 2012, during which she brought back integrity and dynamism in teaching and performance and a widening of the academic scope of the dancer graduating from its portals, besides initiating several publications, films and documentation of Kalakshetra founder Rukmini Devi Arundale’s dance-dramas. She has won several awards including the Padma Shri in 1990 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2000.
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